News: Leaders praise mobility team for successful Afghanistan surge
Story by Master Sgt. Scott Sturkol
SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. - When President Barack Obama announced the surge of an additional 30,000 troops to Afghanistan on Dec. 1, 2009, mobility Airmen and other members of the Department of Defense's mobility team didn't waste a second getting the surge in motion.
Within days, units designated to go to Afghanistan were notified and began preparations. Likewise, the DOD's mobility team - which includes U.S. Transportation Command, Air Mobility Command and the 618th Air and Space Operations Center (Tanker Airlift Control Center) -- stepped into action to best determine how to get the troops and their equipment down range.
Nine months later, officials say the effort to move the thousands of personnel and millions of pounds of cargo has been a success.
"With the arrival of the last 59 Soldiers into Afghanistan on Aug. 31, you have superbly executed all aspects of the President's orders to quickly move forces into Afghanistan and out of Iraq," wrote Gen. Duncan McNabb, U.S. Transportation Command commander at Scott AFB to all personnel in USTRANSCOM, AMC and other mobility team members. "You overcame huge challenges, never wavered, and simply 'got 'er done.' No one could have done it better. Bravo Zulu."
To muster the muscle it takes for a troop movement of 30,000-plus troops, AMC personnel stepped in right away and made the mission happen. For example, AMC airmen moved more than 11,500 tons of supplies in the first month after the president's announcement, officials said.
In another example during the first month of the surge, AMC supported the deployment of two battalions of Marines from Cherry Point, N.C. That effort included more than 40 C-17 Globemaster III missions with more than 1,300 tons of cargo moved. Additionally, AMC civilian partner aircraft airlifted more than 3,500 Marines to Afghanistan. All missions planned and organized in this example were completed by the 618th AOC (TACC).
The 618th AOC (TACC) is the hub for global mobility operations at Scott AFB which plans, tasks and directs a fleet of nearly 1,300 Air Force mobility aircraft in support of strategic airlift, air refueling and aeromedical evacuation operations around the world.
"The work we do at the 618th Air and Space Operations Center [Tanker Airlift Control Center] is as integral to the mission as pushing throttles or being on the flightline," said Brig. Gen. Sam Cox, the 618th AOC (TACC) commander.
In the deployed theater, Airmen have been equally as busy supporting the surge. During the nine months of the surge, mobility air forces performing airdrops in Afghanistan airdropped more than 40 million pounds of cargo through the end of August 2010, statistics from the Air Forces Central's Combined Air and Space Operations Center show.
Under Secretary of the Air Force Erin C. Conaton said the Air Force's ability to provide global power and global reach does not go unnoticed.
"I think that it's not a surprise that whenever I talk to one of my fellow service counterparts from the other services, they generally begin by saying 'thank you' to the Air Force for everything we're doing -- particularly, for the ground forces in both Iraq and Afghanistan," Secretary Conaton said during an August 2010 visit to Scott AFB. "Obviously AMC is critical in that regard. We couldn't get the people, the materials, the aeromedical and the fuel that's needed in the theater without the important work that is done here at this command. So I think the direct support mission is absolutely essential and I think this command is doing it in an excellent way."
Throughout the Afghanistan surge, the DoD's mobility team has kept pace and done so while supporting worldwide humanitarian relief operations such as the Haiti earthquake response in January and the Pakistan floods in late July.
Gen. Raymond E. Johns Jr., AMC commander, said in a message on his commander's blog Sept. 14 that he is proud of the work done by AMC and the entire mobility team for the Afghanistan surge.
"The work you do each and every day continues to amaze me," Johns said. "And even more amazing is the fact that, as you supported the surge in Afghanistan, you continued to meet multiple other contingency and humanitarian operations throughout the world, including airlift, air refueling and aeromedical evacuation operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, and a couple of major relief operations as well.
"You provided immediate support to Haiti early this year, and you continue to support ongoing humanitarian operations in Pakistan following the worst floods to hit that country in more than 80 years."
(Capt. Justin Brockhoff, 618th AOC (TACC) Public Affairs, Mark Diamond, AMC Public Affairs, and Capt. Heather Ward, AFCENT Public Affairs, contributed to this report.)